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Fishing for Mudcats: "This job is not without paradox..."

Fishing for Mudcats: "This job is not without paradox..."
May 23, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

The Carolina Mudcats still can’t seem to find their way. While it looked like this team was going to really come together because of a starting rotation and bullpen in which the whole definitely seemed greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, the parts seemingly keep the whole from achieving at times.
The bullpen is clearly the strength of this team. There really is only one or two top tier arms in the pen, but there is a group of guys behind these two that always seem to find a way to pitch well. This group has had as much transition as any in the organization, but the guys that are there always seem to figure things out. Without the pen, this team would be nowhere near .500. In week 7, the relievers actually put in as much time as the starters, and in 26 1/3 innings, they gave up only 22 hits and six earned runs, while walking nine, and striking out 25. The bullpen ERA was an impressive 2.05.
The starting rotation continues to be extremely erratic, but you could really make a case that the cause of the inconsistency is that this is a staff made up of players that really aren’t at the top of the Indians prospect list. Most of these guys are still trying to figure out how to be professional pitchers, and until they do, they’ll go through their ups and their downs. This past week, thanks in part to some limited innings to injury, the rotation managed to pitch the same amount as the bullpen at 26 1/3 innings. They gave up 13 more hits (35) and an amazing 13 more runs (19 runs, and a 6.49 ERA). They walked 12 batters, and struck out only 17 batters. They gave up four homers on the week. Just not very good.
Offensively, this team really isn’t anything special. They have some consistent offense from a few players, but the team doesn’t really have one sure-thing right now.  Oh, there are good players on this team, and some top 15 as well, but a lot of this talent is extremely raw. This past week, they hit a respectable .269, with 33 runs, 11 doubles, four triples and five home runs. 31 of their 33 runs were driven in, and they walked 19 times, while striking out 54 times.
So, the roller coaster ride continues at Five County Stadium with this young and inexperienced team. But if they figure things out?
Let’s go fishing…

Where We Stand After Week #7:

Overall Record: 22-21 (2-4 this week), 3rd Place in the Southern Division, 4 games behind Winston-Salem.

Week #7 Games:

16 vs. Salem, L 4-5 (WP: R. Pressly; LP: W. Roberts)
17 vs. Salem, L 0-2 (WP: M. Barnes; LP: M. Goodnight; SV: M. Olmsted)
18 @ Potomac, W 12-5 (WP: J. Cooper; LP: M. Grace)
19 @ Potomac, L 5-6 (WP: C. Selik; LP: J. Flores)
20 @ Potomac, L 2-4 (WP: S. McCatty; LP: M. Rayl; SV: N. Holland)
21 @ Frederick, W 10-6 (WP: W. Roberts; LP: T. Wilson)

This Week’s Transactions:

05/21/2012--Carolina Mudcats activated 3B Giovanny Urshela from the 7-Day disabled list.
05/21/2012--Carolina Mudcats placed C Dwight Childs on the 7-Day disabled list.
05/18/2012--Justin Toole assigned to Carolina Mudcats from Columbus Clippers.
05/17/2012--Carolina Mudcats activated RHP Danny Salazar from the 7-Day disabled list.

The Offense

The Good…

Tyler Holt continues to do everything that he’s asked, and then some.  Holt had hits in all six games that he played in this past week, and has a seven game his streak in total. Four of the six games were multi-hit games, scored four runs, and have three triples and two RBI. His average went from .305 to .312, and he is really starting to look like a player that can make everything look so easy. He certainly works hard, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a bunch of talent there. Holt hit .370 for the week, and if he got some consistent play from the two, three or four hole in the lineup, he’s be having a huge year.

It’s amazing the things you hear when you talk to scouts, especially when it concerns on Jesus Aguilar. I spend a ton of time at Carolina Mudcats games, and you can often find me sitting behind the catcher chatting with a scout or two. While they’ll generally discuss any player you think to mention, Jesus Aguilar seems to be a favorite topic. I talked to two scouts last week, one of which for another team in the AL Central, and another from the AL East. Both were laughing about his talent and size. “The book on him is to go down and away, but I watched him reach down and pull a ball about a foot and a half outside the strikezone, and the pitch was down and away.” Both were extremely high on him, figuring that any smart organization would be able to turn him into a solid major league power hitter. Over the past six games, Aguilar is hitting .333, with hits in five of the six, while scoring four runs. He hasn’t had any power of late though, which is a bit of a concern.

Carlos Moncrief is one of the most intriguing players in the entire system, but is rarely consistent enough to do much of anything over an entire season. Moncrief played in five games this week, and opened with back-to-back-to-back games with two hits in each, with two runs and a double. He has 10 strikeouts overall during the five games though, and is only hitting .244 on the season, even though he’s hitting .286 this past week. If he could just put it all together.

Tony Wolters is finally playing like the Tony Wolters of last season. He ended the week at .199, and seemed on the verge of finally breaking the Mendoza barrier. He had hits in four of the five games he played in. He scored five runs, with a double, a triple and three RBI, while walking three times, and striking out three times. If Wolters continues to right the ship, what a comeback it would be for the youngster who many thought was over his head after skipping en entire level.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

One of the big concerns in the Mudcats lineup has to be catcher Jake Lowery. Lowery had a nice looking start to the season, but since, has really struggled. He managed only three hits this past week in 19 at bats for a .158 average. He did score three runs with a double, but you would expect more from a kid that many figured to be instant offense. He has seven strikeouts against only two walks. The next month or two should be very interesting for Lowery in proving that he’s more than just an overbloated draft pick.

There’s a lot of good with regards to Jeremie Tice, and you’ll see that with his numbers. He hit two homers and drove in eight runs, while scoring four runs this past week, and is clearly the top power option on this club. The problem is that he only hit .208. Clearly if he’s going to roll out eight RBI over the span of six games, you’ll take whatever else you get, but five hits a week generally isn’t going to get it done as a DH. Still, Edwin Rodriguez thinks Tice is the best offensive option on the team, and Tice is doing everything he can to prove him right.

The Pitchers:

The Good…

I firmly believe that Shawn Armstrong is the best pitcher on the team, regardless of whether or not he’s a starter or a reliever.  Armstrong dropped his overall ERA to 0.40, as he went three innings in two appearances, giving up only one hit and one walk, while striking out five. Armstrong has firmly entrenched himself into the upper echelon of relievers, and may be following the path of Cody Allen, who took about five second to make it from Mahoning to Columbus. Armstrong may be just as good, if not better.
A series of players didn’t give up a run this week, including Dale Dickerson (2 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 K), J.D. Reichenbach (2 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 K), Jordan Cooper (4 IP, 1 H, 5 K) and starter Danny Salazar (2 IP, 3 H, 1 K). All the players listed are inconsistent, with Salazar returning from a stint on the DL.  For the Mudcats to go far this year, they’ll need all these guys to continue to pitch well.
Kyle Petter started off the season in Carolina getting jacked. His past two appearances this week were outstanding, with both going two innings or more. He went 4 1/3 innings, giving up only one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out three. He “lowered” his ERA from 8.79 to 7.71.
Trey Haley continues to impress scouts. The AL Central scout I talked to said that he’s most impressed with the movement on Haley’s fastball. “It’s extremely difficult to hit,” said the scout, “and as soon as he learns how to locate with consistency, he’ll be a plus arm on any team.” He said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see teams asking the Indians to include Haley in a trade as the season progressed, as he possesses an arm that can touch triple digits.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

Kyle Blair is a guy that just can’t find any consistency over time whatsoever.  His overall ERA is a respectable 4.15, but this past week, he only made it through three innings, giving up four hits and five earned runs, while walking two, striking out two, and giving up two homers. He has to wipe out starts like this over time, or he’s just not going to be successful as he heads to the upper levels.
Reliever Jose Flores found out that closing wasn’t going to be as easy as he had made it look all season. He got roughed up in both appearances this past week, going 1 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and two earned runs, with only one K. Flores does have a plus arm, but the big knock on him has been consistency with regards to his delivery and appearances. He proved that this week.
The starters, overall, were very bad this week. Francisco Jimenez, a model of consistency this year, got jacked this week with four earned runs in five innings pitched. Mike Rayl has struggled over his past couple of weeks, and gave up four runs himself in only six innings pitched. Will Roberts gave up six runs in two starts over 10 1/3 innings pitched. He did manage a win, but didn’t look all that good doing it.

Week #7 Awards:

Hitter of Week 7: Tyler Holt
Pitcher of Week 7: Shawn Armstrong
Player of Week 7: Tyler Holt

The Archives:

Hitter of Week 1: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 2: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Hitter of Week 4: Giovanny Urshela
Hitter of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 6: Ronny Rodriguez
Hitter of Week 7: Tyler Holt
Pitcher of Week 1: Cody Allen
Pitcher of Week 2: T.J. House
Pitcher of Week 3: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of Week 5: Dale Dickerson
Pitcher of Week 6: Francisco Jimenez
Pitcher of Week 7: Shawn Armstrong
Player of Week 1: Cody Allen
Player of Week 2: T.J. House
Player of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Player of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Player of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 6: Francisco Jimenez
Player of Week 7: Tyler Holt

Here Comes Week #8:

May 2012

22 @ Frederick, 7:00 PM
23 @ Frederick, 7:00 PM 
25 vs. Winston-Salem, 7:15 PM 
26 vs. Winston-Salem, 6:15 PM 
27 vs. Winston-Salem, 2:00 PM 
28 vs. Wilmington, 4:00 PM

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at

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